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Central Europe’s ICT sector ‘catching up with Western Europe’

Budapest, Hungary – Central and Eastern Europe’s ICT sector is progressively catching up with Western Europe, a new study by Budapest-based coding school Codecool has found.

Codecool last month published its report examining employment rates, salaries and other key aspects and trends of the information and communications technology (ICT) sector in the 28 EU member countries.

ICT employment on the rise in Central and Eastern Europe

In terms of ICT employment, CEE countries have either already surpassed or are nearing the European average, according to the study.

Although the employment rate of the ICT sector remains the highest in north-western Europe – including in Finland (7.2%), Sweden (6.8%) and Estonia (5.6%) – levels in Central Europe are quickly catching up: Czech Republic (4.1%) is the top performer among Visegrad countries, ahead of Hungary (3.7%), Slovakia (3.2%) and Poland (3%).

More broadly, analysts estimate that around 8.9 million professionals worked in the ICT sector in the EU in 2018 (a 40% increase in ten years), accounting for a total of 3.9% of the workforce.

Growing labour shortages in digitally-skilled workforce

But “while the broadening employment in the ICT sector is unprecedented, storm clouds are already gathering in the sky as the demand for e-skills keeps growing at a quick pace”, the authors warn.

By 2020, the EU labour market may be lacking more than 670,000 ICT-trained professionals, and this labour shortage may be particularly acute in some Central and Eastern European countries: more than half of respondents reported difficulties hiring digitally-skilled workforce in Hungary (60%), while other countries like Romania (45%) and Poland (37%) may also struggle filling in those gaps in the years to come.

According to Eurostat, Czech companies were the ones that faced the greatest difficulty in filling vacancies for ICT specialists, with nearly 80% of them citing problems in that area. More than half of employers in Hungary and Slovakia (60% each) also expressed similar concerns.

Salary growth ‘twice the rate’ as in Western Europe

Codecool points to a growing convergence of salary levels in the ICT sector between the Western and Eastern half of the continent.  “It is also proven that wage growth in the Eastern bloc is accelerating well above inflation, to deliver a real wage increase more than twice as the rate of Western Europe […] as Eastern Europe is gaining the role of the ‘technology hub of Europe’ which is pushing up wages”.

One of the leading coding bootcamps in Central Europe, Codecool is a Budapest-based school specializing in scaling up coding and digital skills across the region. It operates 5 campuses scattered in Hungary, Poland and Romania and trains around 500 graduates every year. To learn more about them, you can head to their website.

You can also read the interview we had with them some months ago to learn more about Budapest’s startup scene, understand why Central Europe will need more digitally-skilled workers in the years to come and how Codecool is trying to address this challenge.

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